2022 Self-Publishing Price Comparison!

2022 Self-Publishing Price Comparison!

UPDATED: 02/02/2022

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please also see “SELF-PUBLISHING? – How Many Book Sales Needed to Recoup Your Investment?

SUMMARY (see details about each firm below)

  • BookLocker: Only $975!!

  • Trafford: $1,348
  • Balboa Press: $1,499
  • Westbow Press: $1,499
  • AuthorHouse: $2,053
  • iUniverse: $2,153
  • Bookbaby: $2,190
  • Xlibris: $2,197
  • Archway Publishing: $2,399
  • Fast Pencil / Opyrus / Infinity Publishing: $2,433
  • Breezeway Books: $2,598
  • Mill City Press: $2,798
  • Xulon Press: $3,545
  • Outskirts Press: $3,795
  • Wheatmark: $6,000
  • Amazon KDP/CreateSpace: N/A – No longer offers formatting/design/editing services to authors. Read NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS about Amazon KDP HERE, and HERE, and HERE, and HERE. There are MANY more online like that as well. See more information about Amazon KDP toward the end of this post. 
  • Lulu.com: N/A – Now refers authors to Limelight Publishing, an Australian firm that charges authors $1,400 U.S. Read NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS about Lulu HERE, HEREHERE. HERE, and HERE.

NOTE: All publishers listed offer distribution through Ingram (the world’s largest book distributor), as well as inclusion of their titles in the major online (Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, etc.) and physical bookstore systems. However, some of these publishers, like Amazon KDP, may limit where they sell ebooks.

Prices below include:

  • Print publication services and distribution, as well as basic ebook formatting and distribution.
  • The cost of production files for those publishers who offer that, but many do not. (BookLocker DOES NOT CHARGE EXTRA for production files! BookLocker authors own all rights to their manuscripts AND their production files.) Some publishers don’t give or even sell production files to authors when those authors leave their service, even if the author has paid them thousands to produce those files. We call this a forced marriage and it’s a ridiculous and extremely greedy practice! BookLocker.com gives production files to authors on request at no extra charge.


Editing costs are excluded from the numbers above. WARNING: Do NOT pay your publisher to edit your book! They will very likely claim ownership of that edited file! You can find an affordable freelance editor who won’t claim all rights to your edited manuscript RIGHT HERE.


BookLocker: Only $975!!

IMPORTANT: WritersWeekly subscribers get a $150 discount off that price. When you sign up at BookLocker RIGHT HERE, use this discount code: WritersWeeklyReader

  • Better Business Bureau Rating: A+. Read the reviews RIGHT HERE.
  • BookLocker is rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.
  • BookLocker is recommended by the Alliance of Independent Authors. Other ranked publishers on this page have “caution” ratings…or worse. 
  • Read unsolicited testimonials from numerous BookLocker authors HERE.
  • This is the fastest publisher on this page! BookLocker gets black-and-white-interior books on the market in only a month (sometimes faster) at no extra charge.
  • Offers an expedited 2-week package for an additional fee, as well as a D.I.Y. program for only $149.
  • No hidden fees.
  • Print book distribution through Ingram, the world’s largest book distributor. Availability in tens of thousands of bookstores systems worldwide, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target.com, Walmart.com, BooksaMillion, Chapters/Indigo, and many, many more. 
  • Ebook formatting/conversion/distribution on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo (Canada’s popular ebook retailer), and Overdrive (which sells ebooks to more than 40K libraries and schools in 70 countries).
  • Returning authors get a hefty discount on their second and subsequent books!
  • No extra charge for production files, of course. If you paid for it, you should own it! 
  • The 2-week rush publishing service is only $1299 (which is still less than all of the firms below charge for publication in several weeks to several months).
  • BookLocker offers a paperback/hardcover/ebook combo as well. Read more HERE.
  • According to The Independent Publishing Magazine, “Overall, BookLocker offers a very particular kind of POD publishing service, honest, upfront, a quality product, but no unnecessary frills. This model may not suit all authors, but their personalized approach and focus on book sales is worth all the value alone.
  • According to Attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: As close to perfection as you’re going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I’ve ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and has put together a package that is the best in the business. You can’t go wrong here. Plus, they’re selective and won’t publish any manuscript just because it’s accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors’ books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know.”

Trafford: $1,348.00

ALERT! This is an Author Solutions company. 

At the Better Business Bureau:

  • Their customer rating is only 1.25 OUT OF 5 STARS.
  • And, there have been 204 COMPLAINTS in just the past 3 years.

Victoria Strauss writes: “I generally advise authors to avoid the Author Solutions self-publishing services (iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford, AuthorHouse, BookTango, and the self-pub services Author Solutions runs for major publishers, including Thomas Nelson’s WestBow Press and Hay House’s Balboa Press), since I’ve received many complaints about quality, price, and high-pressure sales tactics.”

NOTE: Trafford is owned by Author Solutions, which also owns AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse (all featured here), WordClay, Palibrio, Booktango, and others, and is also in partnership with Archway Publishing (featured below), Balboa Press (also featured below), LifeRich Publishing, GABAL, Partridge, and Alliant Press. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Author Solutions in the past. SelfPublishing.com gives AuthorSolutions 1 out of 5 stars.

Read NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS about Author Solutions HERE, and HERE, and the comment under THIS ARTICLE (WOW!!). There are MANY more complaints about AuthorSolutions online as well.

One author was so upset with an Author Solutions company that she wrote a book about it.

Trafford is rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

See several complaints about Trafford HERE and HERE. There are more online as well.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory” about Trafford.

SelfPublishing.com gives Trafford 0 (yes zero) out of 5 stars. “Given the disgraceful reputation and one of the most disliked vanity publishers in the business under the umbrella of Author Solutions, 0 is the deserved score. It’s a score Trafford has worked hard to earn with its years of scamming bustling authors, and we believe in being fair.”

Balboa Press: $1,499.00 

ALERT! This is another Author Solutions company. Read more in the Trafford listing above. 

Read NUMEROUS complaints about Balboa press HERE and HERE.

SelfPublishing.com gives BalBoa Press only 2 out of 5 stars.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory” about Balboa Press.

Westbow Press: $1,499.00

ALERT! This is yet another Author Solutions company. Read more in the Trafford listing above. 

Read NUMEROUS complaints about Westbow Press HERE, and HERE, and HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory” about Westbow Press.

AuthorHouse: $2,053.00

ALERT! This is ANOTHER Author Solutions company. Read more in the Trafford listing above. 

Read NUMEROUS complaints about AuthorHouse HEREHERE, HERE, and HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory” about AuthorHouse.

iUniverse: $2,153.00

ALERT! And, this is another Author Solutions company. Read more in the Trafford listing above. 

Read numerous complaints about iUniverse HEREHERE, HERE, and HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory” about iUniverse.

Bookbaby: $2,190.00

There are numerous complaints about Bookbaby HERE, HEREHERE, HERE, and HERE.

SelfPublishing.com only gives BookBaby 3 out of 5 stars.

BookBaby is the only publisher on this list that requires authors to sign an exclusive contract, which is ridiculous for self-publishing. Authors should NOT give exclusive rights to their book to a firm that THE AUTHOR PAID to publish that book!

Also, see: 9 Reasons NOT to Use BookBaby to Publish Your Book

Xlibris: $2,197.00

ALERT! This is ANOTHER Author Solutions company. Read more in the Trafford listing above. 

See numerous complaints about Xlibris HERE and HERE, and HERE, and HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has issued a “watchdog advisory” about Xlibris.

Archway Publishing: $2,399.00

ALERT! This is ANOTHER Author Solutions company. Read more in the Trafford listing above. 

There are several links to complaints about Archway Publishing HERE  and HERE.

The Alliance of Independent Authors issued a WARNING about Archway Publishing.

SelfPublishing.com gives Archway Publishing only 1.5 out of 5 stars.

FastPencil.com / Opyrus / Infinity Publishing: $2,433.00

  • Better Business Bureau Rating: F
  • Their customer rating is only 1 OUT OF 5 STARS.
  • There have been 34 COMPLAINTS in just the past 3 years. 

Infinity Publishing merged with Fast Pencil. They have since launched Opyrus.

There are numerous complaints about FastPencil / Infinity Publishing listed HERE, HEREHEREHEREHERE, and HERE.

Fast Pencil and Infinity Publishing have been given a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Breezeway Books (previously Llumina Press): $2,598.00

Breezeway Books was previously Llumina Press, which had numerous complaints posted about it online. The publisher then canned that name, and started a “new” company. In a press release, they called it “rebranding.”

Read an eye-opening review of this publisher HERE.

Read several more complaints about this publisher HERE and HERE.

Breezeway Books has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Mill City Press: $2,798.00

This firm has been sold to the owners of Xulon Press (Salem Authors Press / Salem Media Group), which appears next on this list. They also own MCP Books and XP Books. Another division is Hillcrest media.

Better Business Bureau Rating: N/A (It says they are out of business but that’s not true. Their website is still operating.) Read complaints at the link below. 

Mill City Press has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Read complaints about Mill City Press HERE.

Xulon Press: $3,545.00

ALERT: At the Better Business Bureau, there have been 37 COMPLAINTS in just the past 3 years. 

Xulon is yet another firm that claims to pay “100% royalties” but you are NOT getting 100% of the list price, which is what some authors assume when they read that type of marketing verbiage…not even close! The author simply gets what’s left over after everybody else takes their cut, which is what everybody does! Read more about those silly “100% royalty” claims HERE.

There are some scathing comments about Xulon Press HERE. Read more complaints HERE and HERE.

Xulon Press has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Outskirts Press: $3,795.00

  • At the Better Business Bureau, they have been 17 COMPLAINTS in just the past 3 years. 

There are NUMEROUS complaints about Outskirts Press HERE, HERE, HEREHERE. and HERE.

Author Michael Marcus wrote a book about Outskirts Press called: Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy: The Strange Story of Vanity Publisher Outskirts Press. How Do They Stay in Business? You can see that HERE.

Outskirts Press has been issued a “caution” rating by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Wheatmark: $4,000 to $6,000?

You might get upsold for more because their website states: “The investment for a typical publishing project with us is between$4,000 and $6,000.” That’s ridiculous!!

You have to fill out a long form online so they can then contact you with their sales pitch. According to the Independent Publishing Magazine, “authors must pay for initial consultation and they don’t publish their prices on their website.” Also: “Royalties are low when compared to some self-publishing services.”

Amazon / KDP

Amazon’s publishing division may sound great because their books appear on Amazon. However, books by ALL of the publishers listed on this page appear on Amazon. Amazon does not give preferential listings to their KDP authors. In fact, there are PLENTY of complaints by their KDP authors online! 

  • Amazon’s KDP publishing division no longer offers formatting/design services to authors. You have to pay someone else to do it, or you have to try to do it yourself on their convoluted system.
  • KDP authors do NOT get free marketing (or any special perks at all)
  • Amazon has zero incentive to make it easy for other retailers to purchase your books.
  • Many retailers and libraries flat refuse to buy books published by Amazon because they have published SO MANY horrible books.
  • Amazon will publish pretty much anything and everything that comes over the e-transom. That means your book will be associated with horrible writing and, when it occurs, bad formatting and printing. Amazon even published a book that taught pedophiles how to groom their victims. So, think very carefully before choosing a publisher – any publisher – before making a commitment.

Before you decide to give control of your book and book sales to Amazon, you should read NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS about Amazon KDP HERE, and HERE, and HERE, and HERE. There are MANY more online like that as well.

76% “Bad” ratings on Trust Pilot. Read those reviews HERE.

If Amazon terminates your account or book for any reason, good luck trying to get it back up. You’ll be stuck in a merry-go-round of form responses from people working overseas.

Lulu: N/A for publishing services but…

Lulu now refers authors to Limelight Publishing for services, which is located in Australia. They charge $1,800 AU (that’s around $1,400 US).

Lulu will still print and list your book, of course, but…

  • At the Better Business Bureau, their customer rating is only 1.47 OUT OF 5 STARS.
  • There have been 112 COMPLAINTS in just the past 3 years. 

ALERT: Lulu is in partnership with Author Solutions. (See the Trafford listing near the top of this page for more about that firm.)

Lulu has a lot of angry authors out there.

Read numerous complaints about Lulu HERE, HEREHERE. HERE, and HERE.

Lulu has been given a “mixed rating” by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

***Prices above are based on the least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include black-and-white-interior print formatting (based on a 200-page book) with up to 50 interior photos/graphics (BookLocker allows up to 50 graphics in print books at no extra charge), original color cover design (some firms above only offer template covers with these packages while all BookLocker covers are original and unique) with up to 5 images on those covers (BookLocker does not have a cover image limit). Prices also include a print proof, basic ebook formatting and distribution to the top four ebook retailers (some have distribution limitations, and some may charge more for ebooks with complex formatting), Espresso edition (not all above offer this), an ISBN for all editions, barcode, a listing on the publisher’s website, distribution by Ingram, the largest book distributor, and feedback on your cover if submitting your own (some above don’t offer this, or won’t give you a discount if you are submitting your own cover), all within 6 weeks. Some firms above offer “free copies” in their packages but, if you look at the high prices of those packages, you’ll see that handful of “free” copies are anything but free. Authors would do better signing up for a less expensive service, and then purchasing copies at their author discount.

IMPORTANT: Many of the firms above don’t offer rush/expedited publishing services. BookLocker usually publishes within a month – at no additional charge. BookLocker also offers a rush 2-week print publishing program for only $1199, which is still less than all of the other firms’ “regular” packages above. The 2-week program is also eligible for the $150 Discount Code offered to WritersWeekly readers. You can sign up RIGHT HERE, and use this discount code when checking out to get your $150 discount: WritersWeeklyReader

NOTE: Many companies offer perks that others don’t and some try to upsell authors on extraneous services during the publishing process. Study each publisher and contract carefully before making your choice.

To see additional complaints about print on demand/publishing service firms, click HERE.

IMPORTANT: WritersWeekly readers get a $150 discount off when publishing with BookLocker! You can sign up with BookLocker RIGHT HERE, and use this discount code when checking out to get your $150 discount: WritersWeeklyReader

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11 Responses to "2022 Self-Publishing Price Comparison!"

  1. Tom Calarco  March 13, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for the excellent summary, Angela. I have a client who may be interested in Booklocker, though we also may try to query Abuzz.


    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  March 13, 2021 at 11:31 am

      Great! When you need me, you know right where I am. 🙂


  2. Larry Quillen  March 5, 2021 at 11:51 am

    According to my records, it cost me $517 for Booklocker to publish my first book, Jenny Cay, in 2009. Number six, The Lost People, is coming up shortly. At $875, less $150, that is still a good deal. I’ve enjoyed working with Angela and all the gang for 12 years.

  3. Pamela Allegretto  March 6, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Another excellent, informative article. I always look forward to Fridays with WritersWeekly. Cheers to the entire staff at BookLocker.

  4. Fatima Caruthers  April 22, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    First of all I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question in whichI’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your headprior to writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting myideas out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems likethe first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out howto begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thank you!

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  April 23, 2019 at 10:21 am

      I always stop writing in the middle of a chapter, not at the end of a chapter. The next day, I re-read what I wrote the previous day and am able to easily get into the groove since I don’t have to “start anew” on a new chapter. If I stop at the end of a chapter, it’s much more difficult for me to pick up the writing again the next day. 🙂


  5. By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  May 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    The list above is sorted by price. I’d love to make a list of bad ones but doing that would inevitably result in a bunch of phony lawsuit threats. Instead, authors should research any publisher they’re considering doing business with. It’s not difficult to find real complaints about such firms. While there are false negative reviews about firms (likely posted by their competitors), it’s not difficult to find patterns in legitimate complaints that indicate red flags.


  6. Deborah Midkiff  February 22, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I highly recommend Booklocker, and have from my first book to my fifth now headed to publishing. They are the best!

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  February 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      We love you, too, Deborah! Can’t wait to see your latest!! 🙂

  7. pamelaallegretto  February 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    I recommend BookLocker whenever I can.

  8. perleyjthibodeau  February 3, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I got my files back (all 13 manuscripts of them) from CreateSpace because I have a Chase Business Card and it must have been considered merchandise paid for but not received. Don’t deal with CreateSpace at all!